It’s Memorial Day Weekend and the Cubs begin play this afternoon at Wrigley Field with the best record in baseball.
The Cubs will spend the holiday weekend hosting the Phillies, the most surprising team to this point of the season. Pete Mackanin has his team in the mix in the NL East and with a record of 26-21, five games above .500. No one thought the Phillies would be playing this well two months in the season during Spring Training.
The Cubs are 31-14 after 45 games and have a plus-119 run differential. The Cubs have scored 256 runs (5.68) and allowed 137 runs (3.04). The Cubs record and run differential have been storylines all season.
Here’s where the Cubs offense ranks in the other major offensive categories heading into the Memorial Day Weekend.
The Cubs have a .258 team batting average, sixth in the National League. The Cubs are second in on-base percentage (.359), fifth in slugging percentage (.424), third in OPS (.783), second in runs scored (256), seventh in hits (399), fifth in doubles (83), sixth in home runs (52), first in walks (221), 13th in strikeouts (360), seventh in total bases (654), fifth in extra basehits (143), tied for 14th in grounding into double plays (25), fifth in number of pitches (7208) and eighth in stolen bases (24).
There is obviously a lot of ball left to play. If the first two months are any indication, it should be another fun summer following Joe Maddon’s team.
A couple of rather interesting facts on WAR hit the Twitter-machine Thursday as the Cubs enjoyed the off-day. Here’s where Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist rank on the leaderboards.
Jake Arrieta is 9-0 in 10 starts this season with a 1.72 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 2.71 FIP. Arrieta has allowed 14 runs, 13 earned, on 40 hits with 21 walks and 67 strikeouts in 68 innings. Arrieta is second on the pitching WAR leaderboard according to Baseball-Reference. Arrieta has a 2.5 WAR behind the best pitcher on the planet, Clayton Kershaw (3.3), and ahead of Chris Sale (2.4)
Entering play Thursday, the Cubs had three of the top six position player WAR leaders according to FanGraphs: Dexter Fowler (3.0), Ben Zobrist (2.7) and Kris Bryant (2.3).
Fowler is batting .319/.436/.524 with 15 doubles, two triples and five home runs for a .960 OPS. Fowler has scored 32 runs in 44 games with 23 RBI out of the leadoff spot and 29 walks with 42 strikeouts in 202 plate appearances.
Zobrist leads baseball with a .453 OBP and has hit .346 in 43 games with a .519 slugging percentage and .972 OPS. Zobrist has driven in 31 runs, scored 34 runs and has walked 32 times with 18 strikeouts in 193 plate appearances.
Bryant has a .279/.368/.503 slash line after 44 games with 10 doubles, 10 home runs and a .870 OPS. Bryant has 35 RBI and 33 runs scored with 21 walks and 40 strikeouts in 204 plate appearances.
Gerardo Concepcion pitched the eighth inning of Iowa’s 6-3 loss to El Paso in 12 innings on Thursday afternoon. Concepcion entered with the game tied at two. And the lefty was charged with his first run of the year.
Concepcion allowed one run on two hits with a walk in an inning of work. Concepcion struck out one of the six batters he faced. Concepcion made 25 pitches, 15 for strikes.
The run was the first surrendered by the lefty in 10 appearances with Double-A Tennessee and five with Triple-A Iowa. For the year, Concepcion is a combined 1-0 in 15 games with a 0.36 ERA and 0.67 WHIP. He’s allowed one run on nine hits with eight walks and 23 strikeouts. Teams are hitting .111 against him.
At the Triple-A level, Concepcion has surrendered four hits and issued four free passes, which is too high for 7 2/3 innings. Concepcion has six strikeouts and teams are hitting .160 against him.
Left-handers are hitting .200 and right-handers are batting .133 in the five appearances with Iowa.
News and Notes
• Patrick Mooney talked to Jed Hoyer about how the Cubs were built and where they go from here.
• Kris Bryant has hit the most home runs ever by a Cubs player in his first two seasons according to Baseball Reference.
• The Cubs record against the Cardinals and Pirates so far this season is 9-3. The Cubs have scored 72 runs and allowed 34 runs in the series with the division rivals. The Cardinals felt they made a statement in Wednesday’s loss to the Cubs.
• Jeff Passan explained that even on a day when he was sh—ty, how Jake Arrieta still made history.
• Jesse Rogers answered questions from Twitter on ESPN Chicago.
• Joe Maddon thinks Jason Hammel’s success is sustainable according to the Sun-Times. Comcast SportsNet explained that Hammel is pitching like an All-Star again. David Ross also believes Hammel’s performance is sustainable.
• The Red Sox are closing in on the Cubs for the top spot on Yahoo Sports power rankings.
• Jim Bowden posted top trade candidates and the best fits as he sees them. At least Bowden got off the Ryan Braun to the Cubs talk that he tried to start a couple of weeks back.
• Hardball Talk reported Tony LaRussa went into the Pirates broadcast booth over hit-by-pitch criticism. LaRussa implemented the Cardinals Way of handling retaliation pitches. The Pirates have taken it to another level and will continue hurting players until Major League Baseball steps in and puts an end to it.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, Sonny Gray played catch Thursday for the first time since he was placed on the disabled list. Rosenthal assumed that was a good thing and pointed out Gray is eligible to come off the DL on June 6.
Vin Scully and the iconic speech from Field of Dreams … just listen and enjoy.
People will come, Vin.
— MLB (@MLB) May 26, 2016
Ken Rosenthal shared just an incredible story about how the Cubs are helping a family member through a terrible time. This is so Cub. Those that have not read what the organization has done for Mike Roberts, make sure to take the time.
This Day in Cubstory
2013 – Cubs selected Alex Burnett off waivers from the Orioles
2005 – Cubs signed Cody Ransom
2005 – Mark Prior left the game against the Rockies in the fourth inning after a line drive off the bat of Brad Hawpe hit him in the right elbow. An MRI revealed a fracture in the elbow and he would be out indefinitely. Prior returned a month later. Todd Wellemeyer took over for Prior, Derrek Lee hit two home runs and both Neifi Perez and Corey Patterson went deep in the Cubs 10-3 victory over the Rockies.
1997 – Royals selected Larry Casian off waivers from the Cubs
1984 – Cincinnati’s Mario Soto is ejected from the game when he shoved third base umpire Steve Rippley for calling Ron Cey’s foul ball down the left field line a home run. Although the decision was reversed, Soto also attacked Cubs coach Don Zimmer. National League President, Chub Feeney suspended Soto for five games, the first of two suspensions that season for Soto.
1972 – Cubs purchased Ron Dunn from the Orioles
1969 – Todd Hundley, born
1963 – Cubs purchased Tom Baker from the Orioles and Ellis Burton from the Indians
1955 – Pat Hughes, born
1935 – Jerry Kendall, born
1884 – Fred Goldsmith became the first Cubs pitcher to hit two home runs in one game. Goldsmith led the Chicago National League Ball Club to a 14-6 victory over Buffalo.